DUI with Injury refers to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and as a result, causing physical injury to another individual. DUI with Injury is a serious crime and may attract misdemeanor or felony charges. The common penalties for the offense include license suspension, jail time, fines, and alcohol education. At San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm, we handle all DUI cases, including DUI with an Injury.

Overview of DUI with Injury

DUI with Injury or DUI Causing Injury falls under California Vehicle Code 23153 VC. Under this law, you may be liable of DUI with Injury if you operate a vehicle while impaired due to consumption of an alcoholic drink, and neglect any duty required by the law, or perform any task prohibited by the law, and the neglect or the act causes injury to another individual but not the driver.

Under VC 23153, any person with a BAC of .08% or more who operates a vehicle while impaired and inflicts injury of another person is liable. During prosecution for DUI with Injury, the prosecutor has to prove three factors in court:

  1. That you committed an offense of going against California driving under the influence rules. You can violate California statutes if you operate a vehicle while impaired. Impairment refers to the effect of alcohol on your mental and physical functionality. Impairment makes you unable to exercise the same degree of caution and to act prudently, as a sober person would in similar circumstances. An impaired person may not be able to detect inherent risk while operating a motor vehicle.

    You also break the California drunk driving laws if you operate a vehicle with a BAC above .08% even if you are not impaired. You are also guilty of breaking the DUI laws if you are under the influence of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, and you operate a vehicle. The California DUI law is strict on drivers who operate commercial vehicles. Unlike regular drivers who have a BAC limit of .08%, as a commercial driver, you are guilty of DUI if the content of alcohol in your blood is above .04%.

  2. That due to your drunk state, you are guilty of a commission or omission of the law. A commission refers to an act that is not in line with the law while an omission is the negligence of the requirements of the law.

  3. That your illegal act or your negligence led to the injury of another individual. If you are involved in an accident, but you did not cause the accident, even if a person is injured, you may defend yourself since your acts, or negligence was not the cause of the accident and the resulting injury. For example, you may be driving home drunk from a celebration. Another driver hits you, and he/she suffers bodily injuries. As much as prosecutors may try to charge you with DUI with Injury, your DUI attorney may negotiate for misdemeanor DUI charges, as you were not the cause of the accident.

Penalties for DUI with Injury

A penalty for DUI that results in injury in California varies greatly depending on factors such as the facts surrounding the DUI offense. The punishment will be severe if you are a repeat offender who had a prior DUI offense less than ten years ago. In California, you face a harsher DUI punishment for every additional DUI offense.  If you commit a third DUI that causes injury offense, you automatically face felony DUI charges. Starting from the year 2019, it is necessary for all people convicted of DUI Causing Injury in California to fit their vehicles with an ignition interlock device (IDD).

Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI Causing Injury

Some of the penalties for a misdemeanor DUI charge include:

  • Summary probation that may last for 3 to 5 years - A summary probation also goes by the name informal n probation and refers to inactive supervision of an individual convicted of a misdemeanor offense. While on informal probation, an offender does not have to meet with the probation officer or to check in with the probation department.

  • A minimum of three hundred and ninety dollars ($390) to five thousand dollars ($5000) in fines

  • Jail time - which may vary from 5 days to one year in a county but not state jail

  • Undertaking a court-approved drug or alcohol education program - the program may run for nine months, eighteen months, or even thirty months, depending on the severity of the offense. The training program also goes by the name California DUI School. The licensed and approved providers of alcohol education programs in California only conduct in-person training. Any alcohol education offered online is not acceptable, as it does not meet the requirements of California DUI. In California, there are almost five hundred (500) licensed DUI programs. There are also over two hundred and fifty (250) administers of the DUI education programs. To enroll in an alcohol education program, you need a court order or a notice of license suspension from California's Department of Motor Vehicles.

  • Suspension of your privilege to drive in California - your driving privilege may be suspended for a period of one year or up to three years depending on how severe your DUI with Injury offense is. However, as from 2019, if an offender agrees to install an IDD (ignition interlock device), he/she may retain his/her driving rights and keep operating their vehicles without any limitation.

  • Restitution of the injured party - this involves reimbursing the injured person or persons the expenses incurred because of the DUI injury. The expenses may include medical expenses, among other costs.

Penalties for Felony DUI with Injury

For a felony DUI with Injury, you may face some more severe penalties compared with penalties for misdemeanor DUI Causing Injury. Some of the penalties include:

  • Imprisonment in a California State Prison; The imprisonment duration will vary from case to case. The minimum imprisonment period is 2 years. An offender may also face 3 or 4 years of imprisonment.

  • If the victim of DUI Causing Injury case sustains severe injuries on the body, an offender may face a consecutive additional jail time ranging from three years to six years. Great bodily injury refers to severe physical injury, and it is not inclusive of emotional injury or financial loss. When assessing the severity of an injury, factors that the jury may consider, include the pain caused by the injury and the medical attention required.

  • An additional sentence of one year for every additional person who suffers injury for up to a maximum period of three years

  • The most severe sentencing scheme known as three strikes may be applicable for a DUI, causing great bodily injury in California. You may get one strike on your criminal history if another individual sustains a significant physical injury due to your drunk driving. The Three Strikes Law is severe as getting a third strike may lead to life imprisonment. Most people serving extended imprisonment in California jails are serving their second or third strike sentencing.

  • Hefty fines are also applicable. The fines may range from one thousand and fifteen dollars ($1015 to five thousand dollars ($5,000).

  • California DUI School- The court may recommend an alcohol-training program that may last from eighteen months to thirty months, depending on the facts of the case and the court's decision. For DUI training to be recognized, it has to be conducted face to face and not through the internet. There are more than five hundred approved alcohol education programs in California, and around two hundred and fifty approved alcohol education providers.

  • A three-year HTO (Habitual Traffic Offender) title; this title may be part of the DUI with Injury punishment. A habitual traffic offender refers to a driver who has a long list of traffic offenses under his/her name. An HTO is a driver who has demonstrated over time that he/she may be a hazard on the roadways.

  • California's driver's license revocation; an offender's driver's license may be revoked for up to five years for a felony DUI with an Injury case. However, is an offender agrees to install an ignition interlock device (IDD) in his vehicle for one year or more; the license revocation may be stopped.

Defending Yourself Against a DUI with Injury Charge

After violating California 23153 VC, you can defend yourself with the assistance of a DUI attorney. The defense approach is similar to defending yourself from any other DUI related charge. A DUI attorney weighs all parameters to show that you were not intoxicated or that there was an error in measuring and reporting your blood alcohol content. With a good defense, you can have the DUI with Injury charges reduced. You may face lesser charges or have evidence suspended, especially if the attorney can prove that you did not drive under the influence.  Some defense strategies include:

Violation of DUI Testing Procedures

Your DUI attorney closely examines various processes such as your arrest; processes followed when administering breath tests, and how the investigations surrounding your DUI case were conducted. If the attorney identifies any lapses or establishes that the law enforcement officers did not follow the right procedures in testing for DUI, for instance, he/she may base your defense on the procedural violations.

Accident Scene Reconstruction

Your attorney may get the assistance of an expert who reconstructs the scene of the accident and establishes if you were the cause of the accident that resulted in injury. The expert may analyze things such as the condition of the weather at the time of the accident; weather conditions may affect a driver's visibility. When reconstructing an accident scene, the expert also examines the condition of the roads and the damages inflicted on vehicles. The findings help determine if you are to blame for the accident. In a DUI accident involving two vehicles, for instance, a reconstruction expert examines the damages on the vehicle to determine if you hit the other vehicle or you were hit. If another driver hits you, you are not at fault for causing the accident. In such a case, you would only face standard DUI, but not elevated DUI that causes injury charges. 

It is important to examine an accident scene as it protects A DUI offender from an unfair DUI with Injury conviction. Often, when police visit an accident scene, they rarely evaluate the root cause of the accident as long as they prove that a driver is drunk. Instead, they automatically assume that the accident resulted from drunk driving. The driver then takes liability for all the damages and injuries resulting from the accident. Evaluating the scene of the accident eliminates such unfair assumptions. If you have a good attorney by your side, it will be very hard for the prosecution to prove that you acted negligently and that your negligence led to the injury of another person.

Challenging the Prosecutor's Facts and Evidence

In your defense, an attorney may challenge the facts presented in court by the prosecutor. When determining the impairment of a drive, an officer may look for some visible signs of intoxication. Common signs cited by officers include bloodshot eyes or watery eyes, inconsistent speech, inability to maintain an upright posture or a smell of alcohol on a suspect's breath. However, such physical signs of do not prove that a person is intoxicated. For instance, bloodshot eyes may be as a result of allergic reactions or tiredness. Failure to maintain an upright posture may be as a result of illness or a physical injury.

Bad Driver Strategy

A DUI attorney can base his/her defense strategy on the fact that you are a bad driver.  Often, police assume that reckless driving results from intoxication and impairment. However, sober drivers also cause injuries on the roads, mainly due to distraction or fatigue. For instance, driving while swiping the phone, or operating the vehicle music system may cause distraction. Therefore, many judges can be related to the fact that DUI is not the ultimate cause of accidents. Reckless driving charges while sober would be more favorable that DUI Causing Injury charges.

Challenging High BAC Results

Recording high blood alcohol concentration results does not necessarily mean that you are intoxicated or under the influence. In addition to the alcohol content in an offender's body, other factors may elevate the BAC results. For instance, if there are some errors in administering the tests or if the machines used for DUI testing a faulty, BAC results may be higher. It is also common for legal products such as mouthwash to elevate BAC results; mouthwash has a certain percentage of alcohol. Certain illnesses, such as diabetes may cause higher BAC results.

DUI with Injury Related Offenses

In addition to DUI Causing Injury, VC 23153, charges, you may face some additional charges depending on the nature of your DUI case and the facts surrounding the case. Some of the common additional charges include:

Vehicular Manslaughter Due to Intoxication

The crime of vehicular manslaughter is more complicated than DUI with Injury.  California Penal Code 191.5 PC outlines the crime of vehicular manslaughter. To be charged with this offense, the prosecutor has to prove that you drove under the influence, you did not act by the law, you were negligent, and as a result, a person other than yourself suffered injuries. 

If your failure to follow the law and your negligent behavior while driving under the influence causes the death of another person, the charges will be more severe.  You will face gross vehicular manslaughter charges if a person dies due to your drunk driving. 

Your driver's license may be revoked after a conviction of vehicular manslaughter due to intoxication. The crime may be either a misdemeanor or a felony. For a misdemeanor, penalties include serving summary probation that does not involve meeting with the probation officer or reporting in a probation office. You may also spend up to one year in a county jail or pay a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) for a misdemeanor crime of vehicular manslaughter.

For a felony offense of vehicular manslaughter, penalties include formal felony probation. This is active probation whereby you have to meet with the probation officer and also report to the probation office in the course of the probation. The associated imprisonment may vary from sixteen months to two or four years, depending on the extent of the offense. You may pay fines amounting to ten thousand dollars for a felony vehicular manslaughter crime.

Felony Hit and Run that Involves Injury or Death

After a DUI with Injury, it would be prudent for you to stop and provide your personal information to the law enforcement officers. It would also be proper to avail any help to victims or injured persons who may need medical attention, for instance. After causing an injury due to drunk driving, you may be tempted to escape to avoid facing the associated consequences.  Under the California VC 20001, you will face felony charges if for instance, you hit a person and you fail to stop. 

Although it is referred to as a felony hit and run, a crime of hit and run is a wobbler-offense in California. The prosecutor decides whether to charge the case as a felony or a lesser charge of misdemeanor. For a misdemeanor hit and run case, the applicable fines may vary from one thousand dollars ($1000) to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) depending on the extent of the crime.  An offender may also serve one-year jail time in county jail. For hit and run cases where the victim suffers permanent injury or dies, an offender has to face a minimum of ninety days imprisonment.

The imprisonment period for a felony hit and run is between sixteen months and three years. The imprisonment is in state prison. If a victim suffers permanent injuries or dies in the accident, the imprisonment period in a state prison may extend to two to four years. The applicable fines for felony hit and run crimes in California, ranging from one thousand dollars ($1,000) to ten thousand dollars ($10,000) may be applicable.

Child Endangerment

You may face additional charges on top of DUI with Injury if, at the time of causing the injury, you were in the company of a child as a passenger in the vehicle. It is a felony to drive in the company of a child while intoxicated.  By doing this, you would be endangering the life of the child. This is a major offense in California; it could cause you up to six years in state prison.

Depending on the extent of danger a child is exposed to, you may face either a misdemeanor or felony charges for exposing a child to danger. 

DUI Causing Injury and Insurance

In cases of DUI with Injury, an offender may suffer loss and cause losses on the victims. The big question is, does auto insurance cover accidents involving drunk driving? Often auto insurance covers all accidents that involve the policyholder even if he/she acts negligently. However, insurance companies are always against covering intentional vehicle accidents. An insurer may argue that consuming alcohol and then operating a vehicle is an intentional crime. If the insurance company goes by this stand, it may refuse to cover damages resulting from a DUI accident. The insurer may also refuse to cover damages suffered by victims of DUI with an Injury accident.

Whether the insurance company covers your DUI with Injury accident depends on the decision of the insurer. Before accepting liability, the insurer conducts investigations and evaluates the circumstances surrounding the accident. The findings will determine the willingness of the insurer to accept liability for accident damages.

Contact a San Jose DUI Attorney Near Me

DUI with Injury attracts hefty penalties that may consist of imprisonment, fines, probation, and California DUI school enrollment. You do not have to accept liability for all DUI with Injury charges against you. With the help of an attorney, you can challenge DUI charges in court. An attorney may identify errors made in BAC testing. Your attorney may also establish if the DUI testing officer followed all the required procedures. Violation of DUI testing procedures may serve as a good basis for your defense. Contact the San Jose DUI Attorney Law Firm at 408-777-6630 and speak to one of our attorneys. You do not have to face the intricate legal process all alone!